HC Deb 14 March 1947 vol 434 cc1710-3

11.9 a.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Mr. Lindgren)

I beg to move, in page 3, line 33, at the end, to insert: and for permitting in connection with air navigation, subject to such conditions as appear to His Majesty in Council to be requisite or expedient for the protection of the revenue, the importation of goods into the United Kingdom without payment of duty; This Amendment is in connection with the financial provisions, and Members of the Committee will note that it is already printed in the Bill in heavy type and underlined. As it is a Financial provision it was omitted from the consideration in another place to avoid any question of Privilege.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

In this connection, may I ask what is the precise meaning of the last four words, "without payment of duty"? I feel that we should exercise some discretion in watching the position under this Clause since there might be certain privileged persons coming in without paying duty. It is up to us to see that the Treasury are really doing their duty. Every time a duty is relaxed, it means that ultimately other individuals have to pay more. It is up to us to see that no individuals come into this country without paying the full amount of duty.

Mr. Lindgren

I can assure the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) that people are not likely to be excused. The point is that aircraft may get out of order on various parts of the route. In the case of a foreign operator whose aircraft becomes out of order in this country, he may be required to provide certain spares for it, and it is in connection with these spares that certain facilities are provided as they are specifically for the repair of the aircraft. The regulations are specific, and there is no possibility of bringing in spares to be resold in this country.

Mr. C. Williams

I think I now understand the reasons for this provision. I understand that it is to cover spare parts for aeroplanes in service, and nothing else, and does not apply to individuals. Under these circumstances, I see no harm in it, and I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his explanation.

Air-Commodore Harvey (Macclesfield)

While appreciating the necessity for this provision, may I ask if the Parliamentary Secretary is satisfied that there will be reciprocal arrangements for British operators in other countries? I hope it is not to be a one-way traffic.

Mr. Lindgren

I understand that is the intention.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd (Mid-Bedford)

I take it that the limiting words are "in connection with air navigation," and that they prevent this proviso being used for the purposes my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) fears?

Mr. Lindgren

That is so.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Mr. C. Williams

This is a very long and complicated Clause, and before we pass it the Parliamentary Secretary should give us some explanation. This is one of the least easily understood Clauses I have ever read, and for that reason I think the Committee is entitled to some explanation of it. It is also one of the governing Clauses of the Bill.

Mr. Lindgren

I always understood it was the task of the Parliamentary draftsmen to make the language of Clauses clear and beyond any doubt to the average Member of the House of Commons, but whether or not they succeed is another matter. The main provisions of this Bill are, of course, contained in Clause 1. It re-enacts legislation which already exists, and arises from the Paris Convention. The new international organisation which has been set up, which had its first meetings in 1944, and arrived at its conclusions at Chicago, will supersede the Paris Convention. Subsection (1) gives wide general powers. Subsection (2) contains paragraphs (a) to (q), giving specific and detailed powers, which in no way limit the wider powers under Subsection (1). If there are any detailed questions, I shall be only too glad to try and answer them.

Mr. Williams

Can the Parliamentary Secretary explain paragraph (k) in regard to the civil air ensign?

11.15 a.m.

Mr. Lindgren

This paragraph gives power to the Minister to make orders in regard to the markings of aircraft, and to prescribe the use of certain insignia or markings to avoid infringements, such as the use of the Royal Air Force insignia by navigators.

Mr. Williams

Can the Parliamentary Secretary explain the colours of the civil air ensign?

Mr. Lindgren

Those are matters which will be set out in detail in the regulations. This paragraph merely gives power to bring in a regulation, and when regulations are made they will be liable to discussion in the House of Commons.

Mr. Williams

The paragraph states "the civil air ensign," which suggests that it already exists. Could we know what it is?

Mr. Lindgren

I could not give the civil air ensign. It is obvious there is need to regulate certain markings in regard to B.O.A.C. aircraft and various other types of aircraft for identification purposes.

Squadron-Leader Sir Gifford Fox (Henley)

Will the Parliamentary Secretary give an assurance that before this design is decided upon this House will have an opportunity to discuss the matter? I raised a question the other day in regard to the National Coal Board flag, and I was told that it had nothing to do with the House and was a matter for the National Coal Board. We want some assurance that we shall have an opportunity to discuss this matter.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Perhaps I can assist in this matter. The insignia is similar to the Royal Air Force insignia without the roundels. I hope that operators will be allowed to have their own crest and markings on their aircraft.

Mr. Lindgren

That is the purpose of the Clause.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 and 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.